I recently engaged in a long debate with a denier who came across as being a little sophisticated and who used quotes from various research papers (mainly about the fact that often, insufficient data renders definite conclusions hard to arrive at), yet the fact that almost all of these research papers also discuss AGW as being a well-known fact, meant nothing to him.
Being a layman with enough knowledge of science to know that mainstream arguments (such as on the skeptical science website) make a great deal of sense, but without much technical know-how at my disposal, I usually focus on the inherent absurdities in the horrendous conspiracy theories people like him support-which are really not supportable i.e. the claim that Climate scientists only do research to make money and are afraid to reveal "the truth," lest they be destroyed by powerful administrations, or, that they are secretly plotting to gain control of the world's future energy economy.
I can only respond by mentioning that ordinarily research done by academics employed in our universities is compensated to cover only the costs involved in doing research, or, for lost wages when they are unable to teach (for example). I also like to point out that the vast majority of climate and earth scientists have continued to make the same projections no matter which administration happens to be in power, yet have ignored many opportunities like those available during GWs tenure, when the man most responsible for refusing to sign the Kyoto Accords, and who expressed serious doubts about man's role in AGW-could have gladly removed the yoke of coercion which liberal Democrats had supposedly placed scientist's backs?
Then there's the fact that the data about climate change, has remained basically the same, during ANY administration, and that what is happening today, was projected by climate scientists long ago, (in the 1980s and before). So previous scientists must have had access to a time machine which enabled them to know what the future would bring? I also like to point out how reasonable it is to assume that the very powers that cling to the sources of their wealth, such as large oil and/or coal companies, are the ones who are obviously spending a fortune just to create doubts about AGW, and that, scientific researchers make nowhere near the big bucks earned by executives and CEOs or others, from either running their businesses or being lucratively employed by mega companies like Exxon Mobile? However, my opponents almost never address these issues in their responses, and rely instead on using red herrings and ad hominem attacks. So, I have concluded that deniers like these are just not interested in the truth, or in having a rational debate-however well-formed and logical that debate may be.
One of the people I exchanged comments with, had a habit of demeaning and insulting me, or at the very least, using very condescending language while trying to enlighten me with more of his speculations about, and denials of, the mountain of evidence that supports the reality of AGW. Just before I quit commenting to him, I tried to bring to his attention the fact that he had used some pretty ugly insults and antagonistic comments while making his responses to me, (which he continued to deny)? I actually tried to prove my observations by copying one of his most nasty diatribes about me, and then posting it right below my comment about the many nasty things he had said, which thus affirmed his own verbal abuses. What was his response? He just doubled down on denial and claimed that his own caustic use of insults did not even exist-even though the proof that thoroughly disputed this fact, was right there in plain print and in front of his nose???
Obviously, many deniers are not even focused on using persuasive or rational arguments to prove or disprove points. All they need to do is create doubts in the minds of those who can be fooled by pseudo-science and then see nothing wrong with voting for politicians who spread blatant denials in order to block crucial climate legislation. As my mother-in-law used to say, "It's so stupid that it stinks!"
What deniers are currently doing is spreading falsehoods under the protection of the 1st amendment, while opinion page editors everywhere, refrain from correcting the many lies and bits of misinformation that deniers commonly use! Most of these editors think there are still good reasons to "continue the debate," just because (as in any scientific endeavor), there continues to be many things that are not yet known, and thus, this fact can be used by deniers to claim that the science itself, is still not settled. Still, I have tried in vain to make one editor who frequently publishes my comments aware that the 97% or more consensus, is really about two things-that global warming exists and that man is its major cause. And, all the while those of us who know the truth, feel like we are pushing back on a huge bolder composed of lies and deceptions, while it rolls slowly towards an abyss-because we are unable to persuade the people who count the most, about the fact that they are being conned!
The sad thing is that, under their version of the 1st amendment, scientists and educators could be accused of denying the rights of a teacher to dispense easily debunked facts, (like claiming that 2+2=5)? But if anything, all of us are being denied the simple right not to be taken in by lies, while our local newspapers refuse to edit letters filled with lies and falsehoods-something completely within their own powers and rights to do? And the real sadness is that as the climate becomes more and more unstable, and causes more and more extreme weather, deniers will continue to dispense lies and misinformation that will probably still be believed by many of us. However, as the saying goes, you can believe in your own opinions but not in your own facts!
Peter W. Johnson